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Gen Z is ready to work: Are you prepared?

excel training

Have you given any thought yet to how you’re going to be managing Gen Z? If not, it’s time to start. 

People born between 1997 and 2012 will account for 30 percent of the labor force by 2030, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. And they won’t be the same as the workers who’ve come before them. 
When the Millennials came to work, asking for things like flexible schedules and greater transparency from managers, a lot of organizations “weren't prepared for that shift in mindset and values,” said LaKisha Brooks, managing partner at Cartersville, Ga.-based management consulting firm Brooks Consultants. 
With Gen Z, things are going to shift again. 
First, they’ll likely have zero loyalty. “This generation is likely to have about 10 different jobs throughout their career,” Brooks said. Early data already bears this out: Gartner reports that 40 percent of Gen Z employees regret accepting a job offer, and that more than one-third of those who regret their decision intend to leave their job within 12 months. 
For as long as they do choose to stay, they will want to be treated not as mere workers, but as full and authentic individuals. “Their mindset is: If you're going to treat me like a number, I'm going to act like a number. So, treat me as a whole person, understand my background, who I am,” Brooks said. 
There are strategies employers can use to ensure their Gen Z workers add real business value. But managers at all levels will need some training. 
Maybe that Gen Z person will only be with you for a couple of a years. Managers need to know how to make the most of that time. “We can focus on tapping into the potential that these young people have, for example with a reverse mentoring program, in which a Gen Z’r helps a more seasoned worker to acquire new skills,” Brooks said. 
“This generation doesn’t know anything but technology: they're our digital natives,” she said. “Maybe they understand social media marketing, TikTok, Instagram, all these cool things. They can help mentor our marketing department in those areas.” 
Gen Z workers may have other skills that managers don’t even know about. To get the most out of them, it’s worth training managers on new, more personalized approaches. 
“You may hire this person to be a junior sales rep or whatever, but they also may know social media, they may also know how to fundraise. From the time that we start onboarding and orienting them, we need to know the potential they have,” Brooks said. To find that out, “you have to care about what they do outside of work, what their other talents that we may not know about.” 
This in turn addresses that other point — about Gen Z workers wanting to be seen as whole people. Here, too, there are ways to make that work in your favor. 
“This is about ‘cultural competency.’ That means that you are aware of the sensitivity that different people bring to the table. You are aware of their background and experiences, understanding that people see the world through different lenses,” Brooks said. 
A manager trained on the skills of cultural competency can form a deeper human connection to someone, beyond their immediate job role. This helps the worker to be more invested, and can help to surface some of those latent skills and interests that could potentially benefit the business. 
The next step in all this is to ensure that multiple generations of workers, perhaps with very different worldviews, can work productively side by side. To start building that multi-generational workforce, Brooks said, it makes sense to get team projects going. 
“When people who have never worked together before are on a team, they start to understand each other,” she said. To maximize that value, make sure those encounters happen in person. “In this hybrid and remote world, you need to say: ‘You actually have to work together, by talking to each other.’ We need to be intentional about how we want people to collaborate.” 
There are lots of other ways to build a seamless multi-generational organization. An upcoming Emory Continuing Education course helps business leaders to chart a path, overcoming that potential generational divide. 
In Managing Multi-Generations, learners will explore strategies for managing effectively across the four different generations that make up today's unique workforce. This interactive workshop will explore generational differences and similarities, helping participants develop and practice techniques for better managing the wide range of ages and personalities that comprise the current labor force. 
Learn more about the ECE Managing Multi-Generations program